The Legend of Dragoon is a role-playing video game developed by SCE Japan Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation in 1999 in Japan, 2000 in North America, and 2001 in Europe. Set in a high fantasy fictional world called Endiness, the game follows a group of warriors led by the protagonist, Dart, as they attempt to stop the destruction of the world. The player controls a party of 3D character models through pre-rendered, linear environments. Combat uses a combination of turn-based mechanics and real-time commands. Notably, the game includes a quick time event called “addition” during each attack, requiring the player to press a button when two squares converge.
Development began in 1996 and took three years with a production team of over one hundred, and cost $16 million, notably high for the time. The game’s use of realistic CGI cutscenes drew attention from the press. On release, The Legend of Dragoon received mixed to negative reviews, with critics comparing it unfavourably to the Final Fantasy series. The Legend of Dragoon sold over one million copies worldwide, with most of those sales coming from North America. An album of the game’s soundtrack was released in 2000, as well as a novel and manga inspired by the game.
The Legend of Dragoon features three modes of play: the area map, the field, and the battle screen. Players explore the world of The Legend of Dragoon by following predetermined routes on a linear 3D map. At the end of each route are various representations of areas for the player to enter, including towns and dungeons. As the game progresses more routes are revealed for the player to traverse upon. In the field map, the player navigates fully scaled versions of the areas represented on the world map, which are superimposed on pre-rendered backgrounds. The player can explore the environment, talk with characters and advance the story.
At random intervals on the area map and in field mode, and at specific moments in the story, the game will enter the battle screen. A maximum of three characters are used in each battle. On a party member’s turn, the player chooses a command for their character to take such as attacking with a weapon, guarding to recover health, using items, or running away. When the “attack” option is selected a quick-time event mechanic is activated called “addition”. Two blue squares appear on the screen and start to converge. If the player presses a button when the squares overlap the character will continue the addition and do more damage. Characters will receive multiple additions over the course of the game, which have longer chains and deal more damage. The longer additions, however, allow enemies the opportunity to counter and the player needs to press a different button to continue their attack. A player can also select a magic attack item where the player can increase the strength of the attack by repeatedly pressing a button.
During the game’s story, a character will obtain a Dragoon Spirit which gives them the ability to transform into “Dragoon form” while in combat. Dragoon form changes the character’s appearance, giving them wings and making them float in the air. The character can only become a Dragoon during a battle if they have obtained spirit points, which are received after successfully executing an addition attack. In Dragoon form, the character receives a boost to their damage and health, and their commands of attack, guard, items, and run are replaced with Dragoon Attack and Dragoon Magic. If Dragoon Attack is selected, the player enters a new quick time event to extend the number of attacks they execute. A circle appears with a line that moves clockwise and when the line reaches the top of the circle, the player must press X to execute an additional attack. Dragoon Magic allows the player to execute a powerful offensive or defensive spell. The Dragoon form is only usable for a limited number of turns and must recharge to be used again.
When not in battle, the player can use the menu screen. This screen is used to review each character’s status and statistics, use items and abilities, save the game (when on the world map or at a save point), and select an addition attack for use in battle.